Snowboarders accounted for over 26 percent of total skier visits in the U.S. last year, a six percent increase from 1998-99.
(Source: National Ski Areas Association)
Fashion forwardness aside, Aspen Mountain -- better known as Ajax -- has always been old school, a place where locals pride themselves on their straight skis and relish the absence of snowboarders. But that's all changed. On April 1, the Aspen Skiing Company permanently did away with Ajax's snowboard ban.
No April Fool's joke. The town is in an uproar, with residents debating the wisdom of the decision on the streets and in the local papers and at least one petition circling the local high school. "It's going to be dangerous," says longtime local Seth Sachson, a straight-skier himself. Why? Ajax is a steep, narrow mountain, and some fear that wide-turning boarders and quick-edging skiers will be playing a painful game of pinball on the mountain's high-traffic areas. Snowboarders disagree: "Only good riders will be there, so it will be safe," said one snowboarder on a local radio show. Needless to say, Aspen riders are thrilled with the decision: They'll no longer have to trek to Aspen Highlands or Snowmass to get their turns.